Essay on Moundville Burial Sites and Evidence of Social Stratification

Essay on Moundville Burial Sites and Evidence of Social Stratification

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About 800 years ago, a great civilization inhabited the land in west Alabama, located along the Black Warrior River, south of Tuscaloosa. It encompassed a known area of 320 acres and contained at least 29 earthen mounds. Other significant features include a plaza, or centralized open area, and a massive fortification of log construction. The flat topped, pyramidal mounds ranging from three to 60 feet, are believed to have been constructed by moving the soil, leaving large pits that are today small lakes. As major ceremonial center, up to 3000 people inhabited the central area from 1200-1400 AD. An estimated 10,000 lived around the stockade, which surrounded three sides of the civilization (Blitz 2008:2-3; Little et al 2001:132).
A farmer in the late 19th century, upon plowing his land near Carthage, Alabama, discovered an object buried in the earth. From the soil, he removed a large stone disk, polished and flawlessly round. The disk was about 12 inches in diameter with small-notched edges. One side displayed incised globular lines and the flip side was “a strange engraving showing an open hand with what looked like an eye peering from it. Encircling the hand-and-eye image were two entwined rattlesnakes with horns and long tongues.” The farmer had previously found tools pieces of pottery, but he had never seen an object such as this (Blitz 2008:1).

Moundville has been the focus of a large amount of archaeological interest due to its impressive earthworks. Clarence B. Moore produced well-publicized works. During his time in Moundville in 1905 and 1906, Moore pierced the mounds with “trial holes,” finding numerous burials and related artifacts. Unlike many treasure hunters, Moore donated the majority of his find...


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...ora Little
2001. Moundbuilders: Edgar Cayce’s Forgotten Record of Ancient America. Memphis. Eagle Wing Books, Inc.
Maxham, Mintcy D.
2000 Rural Communities in the Black Warrior Valley, Alabama: The Role of Commoners in the Creation of the Moundville I Landscape. American Antiquity 65(2):pp. 337-354. Welch,
Milner, George R.
2004. The Moundbuilders: Ancient Peoples of Eastern North America. London. Thames and
Hudson Ltd.

Reilly III, Kent E. and James F. Garber
2007. Ancient Objects and Sacred Realms. Austin. University of Texas Press.
Steponaitis, Vincas P.
1983 The Smithsonian Institution’s Investigations at Moundville in 1869 and 1882.
Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 8(1):pp. 127-160.

Welch, Paul D., and C. Margaret Scarry
1995. Status-Related Variation in Foodways in the Moundville Chiefdom. American Antiquity
60(3):pp. 397-419.

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